“Leaving your most prized possessions in the hands of someone else is never easy,” says Shara Schmidt, founder and sole owner of Hand in Hand Nanny Agency. “So be careful, do your due diligence, call many references, and most importantly always go with your “MOMtuition.”

Schmidt, a mother herself, worked as nanny and babysitter for many years prior to starting her agency. She knows first-hand the qualities and attributes that it takes to be a wonderful childcare provider.

Photo Credit Thinkstock

Shara Schmidt
Hand in Hand Nanny Agency
Prior Lake, MN
(952) 491-0212

Shara established this personalized nanny or baby sitter service to the twin cities metropolitan area and surrounding suburbs. She carefully screens nannies and sitters for families who register with Hand and Hand by checking background, social security number, criminal record and Department of Motor Vehicles record. Here, Schmidt shares five tips on how you can use many of these same practices to find your best babysitter.

(credit: Jupiter Images)

(credit: Jupiter Images)

Give Yourself Ample Time To Find Someone

“I always recommend families allow four to six weeks for a nanny search. This would be the same in finding a babysitter. It takes time to find someone that is perfect for your family. A big part of the process is also taken up by interviewing these candidates and calling their references. It may be wise to call references even before you have them come in for an interview, this could potentially save you one step if their references were not exactly what you were hoping for.”

Do Your Due Diligence

“Don’t take a babysitter’s word. While you would hope that they are being honest about their experiences and previous positions the only way to confirm is by talking to their references. Make sure to ask their references a variety of questions from the candidate’s reliability, any areas of improvement, to would you rehire this person or how often do you have this person help your family? If the reference hesitates with providing anything but a rock solid referral then you may want to ask why they hesitated. I also recommend asking the reference how they know the candidate. You will want to ensure that not every reference is a family member, while some family members will give an honest review, some others may speak on the side of caution as to not hinder that person’s change of retaining a new position.”

Do A Background Check

“This is a very important step in making sure that your children are in safe hands. Unless you personally know your childcare provider, there is no certain way to ensure that they have a clear criminal history until you complete a background check. You can contact a company and have them complete the check for you for a minimal charge. After all, can you really put a price on your child’s safety?”

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Have Your Top Candidate (or Two) Come In For A Trial Shift

“You will want to ensure that your babysitter is comfortable with the children, and vice versa. By having them come in for a shadowing or trial day it will help everyone get comfortable with each other before handing the reigns over to them. There is a lot that goes in to a family, their schedules, their habits, what works, what does not and what your rules are. You want to make sure that your babysitter is aware of all of this and her responsibilities as well. If you would like your babysitter to keep your home neat and tidy and clean up after herself and the children, make sure you focalize this. Any of your expectations should always be discussed and not assumed.”

Keep Open Communication

“It is vital in any relationship to have open communication, and this is no different when you are hiring someone to care for your children. You want to make sure that your babysitter feels comfortable with you so that she can communicate with you how her shift went and if she had any issues during that time. Some babysitters may not share any negative feedback in fear of what the parents will think. It will also be important for you to discuss with the babysitter any issues or concerns that you are having or if anything needs to be changed. Some issues can quickly build up and turn into much larger concerns if they are not openly discussed.”

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Robin Johnson was born in Annandale, Minn. and graduated from Richfield High School and then the University of Minnesota where he studied Political Science, Business and Industrial Relations. A writer for Examiner.com, he also consults with a variety of organizations and individuals helping them develop and grow. His work can be found at Examiner.com.